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Need to play for future triumphs

National volleyball team of Belarus completes performance in Euroleague after last game in Mogilev, at Olimpiets Complex, showing what we can expect when they debut at European Championship
By Dmitry Baranovsky

The Belarusian squad narrowly missed qualification for the World Championship. If head coach Victor Sidelnikov had gathered the strongest players from the very beginning, and had included top player Oleg Akhrem (who usually captains Polish ‘Resovia’) the results may have been more impressive.

Belarus defeated Turkey national team with by a score of 3:0 in the last round, occupying the second place in Group C. Taking into account the youth of the team members and constant changes in strategy, this wasn’t a bad result and the squad certainly gave their all. Sadly, they missed crucial opportunities. Head coach Victor Sidelnikov is convinced that practice and a stronger domestic championship are the way forward. He notes that the standard internationally is quite different to that ‘at home’ and that ‘Stroitel’ (Minsk) is unaccustomed to playing at such a level, being used to winning easily with existing strategies.  

Victor Sidelnikov is a famous expert with a wealth of experience from coaching top Russian volleyballers. He feels quietly optimistic about the team’s prospects, predicting that they should, at least, reach the first round of the European Championship and may even eventually qualify for the World Championship if they adopt a more professional attitude.

One of the Belarusian national team’s top players, Dmitry Lihorad, agrees. Having played in the first Euroleague, in 2008, when the national team did really well, he admits that it won’t be easy to repeat this success. Early on in the season, the team realised that they could hold their heads high in Europe; however, it’s important to train tomorrow’s players.
Almost half of the players who took part in this year’s Euroleague are to play at the World Universiade in Kazan. The age requirements allow the coaches and federation management the chance to manoeuvre and consolidate, for best effect. 
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